Cortana reportedly getting new animations and features with backend update

One of the smartest aspects about Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 – besides the whole AI thing – is the ability for Microsoft to change dynamically the personal assistant without an OS update. That’s because those ‘pages’ that deliver her information are HTML5 generated web data, meaning it can be altered without much effort.

Reports are coming in from our forums today that Cortana had some changes, including new animations, Tile icons and more. However, those changes have since rolled back already, which could indicate some early testing in preparation for a wider rollout.

Forum member ‘thaman04’ reports seeing the following changes today, with a few others observing the same:

  • When you click on the Cortana tile, she has new animated expressions (for example, she turns into a bouncy ball like she's excited... really cool!)
  • The live tile now has new icons on it - The normal Cortana breathing icon, Weather, Traffic to work, and now the weather icon (e.g. today it shows a cloud with a sun)
  • New interests + notifications available in Cortana's notebook (for e.g. specific news types, traffic notifications)
  • New quiz option at the bottom of today view to let Cortana learn a bit more about your personal interests/habits.
  • New "Give Cortana Feedback" link at the bottom of Cortana's today view.

Another member named ‘xconomicron’ noticed that Cortana would repeat your name back if you ask her “What is my name?”

Cortana Icon

I have personally seen some of the new animations, like the bouncy ball one, but only on my Lumia 1520 and not on my other devices. By the time the information was coming out in our forums, the features were being rolled back for users.

Combined with yesterday’s UK tease for enabling Cortana, it looks like Microsoft is getting ready to go to a new phase for the personal assistant. A similar ‘update’ happened a few weeks ago when Cortana’s voice became more human, due to newer recordings using Jen Taylor’s voice.

Did you see any of those new features today? What else are you looking forward to with Cortana?

Source: Windows Phone Central Forums

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • The new animation of the weather is amazing !!
  • Just seeing these
  • Hmmm. Must be a slow roll out, i don't see anything new.
  • I've had them for a couple of days now. But I hate the new layout of the news feed. Txt is much smaller and the lines between subjects is ugly and distracting. Do like the new animations though.
  • Seems aliver!
  • Backend updates are the best updates
  • That's what she said.
  • Ha. :)
  • Hmm  I'm not seeing any new animations at all. Maybe they are slowly rolling it out??
  • It's pointed out in the opening paragraphs. Some of these features have rolled back for some users, so you may not see them.
  • Daniel, you wrote "I have seen personally seen...." grammar nazi!!
  • Nazi.
  • lol, it happens. fixed
  • Nein nein nein!
  • Ever since yesterday, Cortana had been crashing and I am under tho trap the links when searching. Have you or anyone else having this issue? My phone literally can no longer use search unless I down load an app.
  • She looked bigger and more excited to let me know about going to work this morning..i thought I was tripping, but you guys just proved it
  • What's my name dint work
  • Re-read the article. It'll explain why ;)
  • Ok ok. *waiting*
  • I have seen the bouncy ball on my Lumia 925
  • We want new LANGUAGES support,no features and bon bons!!!
  • +920, never expected Cortana in my native language though, but at least an English version in my region would be nice
  • Don't worry, soon it will be released in England for a whole 2 languages being supported! English AND Real English!
  • There's no such thing as "real English". There is UK English and American English though.
  • Cortana could really become a killer feature for Microsoft, especially so when it comes to Windows Computers and Xbox.
  • South Africa... :(
  • Do what I do, set your region and language settings to US English. She works then.
  • Ja I have done that twice but always need to revert back to my real region for purchasing apps and games, or other reasons. Cortana is awesome and as I am a big halo fan I've barked out every command in the book at het, but why do we need to sacrifice the correct temperature unit (wtf is have to use a US tailored Store experience (yall know what I'm on about) it also messes up some keyboards as not all indigenous language keyboards are supported if you set yourself to US (Afrikaans... My home language) and all sorts of crap like that! I feel I sacrifice too much for that Cortana goodness. Also her music tagging don't work at all! Does it work for anyone else outside US? ... Anyway, love Microsoft and Cortana but call me when she's officially ready to visit South Africa.
  • Well I haven't had any issues with the store, all apps are available including those tailored for the local market. The only issue is the units that Cortana uses, but you can tell her to convert it to Celsius.
    I would like for them to plug in Here Maps into Cortana because Bing Maps are quite limited in information outside the US.
    Music tagging works perfectly, and asking her to play music works especially if you use XBox Music which I use.
  • Are you also a South African? And what phone do you use? Yea I know I can ask her to convert stuff but You shouldn't have to, would be great If you could just put in her "notebook" to only use Celsius. As for the store, yes all the apps are there but the featured and spotlight apps and the whole layout of the store is US centric and sometimes irrelevant to your region. As for here maps, I thought it was already integrated, when you tell Cortana "take me" wherever or "show me how to get to" wherever, Here drive fires up, but you mean like when you ask for instance... "where am I" or any location question that little slice of map that shows up "powered by bing" .... Well I don't have a problem with it cos the bing map shows everything anyways but your right, would be much better with Here maps. As for the music tagging....REALLY! Cos I have never managed to tag a single song, she just gives me"couldn't connect to the internet" she plays my music just fine, just cant tag.
  • Your stock watchlist from bing finance now shows up inside your interest.
  • Yeah see it too really great
  • I can't see any changes
  • This right here is what keeps Microsoft and Cortana relevant and Windows Phone fresh and exciting. It's not only good press but enhances an already stellar experience. Keep pushing out updates Microsoft!!
  • I have no word for this cute :D
  • Awesome...!!
    It is a REAL AI...!!
    Microsoft is building a platform which is capable of self sustainence.
  • The wide live tile has a new animation out sends out like a sonar waves
  • I missed these changes, but at least my hunch was right.. We will see some form of an update with the UK release of Cortana... It just wouldn't make sense to send her out just like that
  • Yes guys, she really did respond back with my name. Now that I'm featured on WPC for this "new" feature of Cortana, I've realized that I should probably go find a girlfriend.
  • hah
  • We nerds don't find girlfriends. We marry gadgets. I asked Cortana to be my girlfriend. She said : Of all the questions you could have asked... So umm... no gadgets too... :(
  • When I asked, she said "I'll work on being more human, you work on being more digital"
  • So what happens when you're digital enough? ;-)
  • She bytes you.
  • Win!
  • I think Cortana should have a Qr-reader
  • +920
  • They will probably (ie, hopefully) make Bing Vision  stand alone app.
  • No a standalone app would be silly.  Just "pinnable" like other baked in aspects of the OS that can be pinned.  If it became an app, that would just slow it down like everything else that became an app.  QR readers wouldn't need frequent updates like most apps do.
  • Bing Vision is still a camera lens. I agree it should be launchable from within cortana, but right now you load camera and pick Bing Vision lens
  • Just swipe down and switch off location. Assuming you got location pinned on the action center though.
  • Yes yes yes
  • I'm growing less impressed with Cortana of late. Its becoming a bit cheeky than functional.
  • Happens with the real ones too, right? =P
  • Haha. Good point.
  • I also noticed that Sports Scores for teams you follow (I assume it got the list from Bing Sports) are now updating on the live tile and in the app
  • Where can I find the wallpaper from the first image?
  • Go follow daniel on twitter. I believe he posted it not too long ago?
  • Thanks ill have a look
  • Can you post a video of all the new thing
  • Everything has been rolled back. -which means we only got a few hours to mess with them today. I highly doubt anyone had time to make a video of these feats.
  • Perhaps this has something to do with Cortana telling me to leave for work "now" (some time in the morning) I if I want to get there on time due to traffic. I certainly didn't ask her to do that... Plus I go to work in the afternoon lol
  • Me neither I don't see any changes
  • Sweet can't wait
  • Where could i get this colorful wallpaper please ??!!!
  • Check the comment posted less than 10 minutes before you asked the question!! :/
  • All I've noticed today is that she's Not showing the news I follow anymore. She also doesn't respond to most questions anymore, just searches Everything.
  • How could i get this colorful wallpaper PLEASE ??!!!
  • Make one!!! Using polygons app
  • now when i get weather updates i can click an option underneath it saying to collect weather inofrmation specifically from that place. Once selected, its got added to my interests( the weather section) and ive also noticed the bouncy icon. Used to be bouncy before but with a different animation. Thats changed now.
  • Will we get quiet hours in the United Kingdom
  • Give me Cortana!!! Sweden
  • Nothing here. Lumia 520 waiting desperately
  • I love it but it went away now.
  • I really want a WPC writer to just post a headline and no article. I bet some wouldn't even notice. The amount of questions from stupid users who never read anything and just wade straight in with the questions is unreal...
  • Just imagine the comments when the headline says 'WhatsApp is back' and there is no article.... Hilarious!!
  • Some of us have busy lives with work and other commitments with charity work, family and friends. I wouldn't have time . I don't see any harm in anyone answering a question. Remember ( no question is a stupid question, but one who finds it stupid or normally ignorant
  • But asking a question answered in the article in plain text.... It just makes the comment section uncomfortable.
  • Nope sorry I don't buy that. This is a news site where knowledgable people take the time to research and write articles. You come here to read the news. You don't stand in a shop and read the newspaper headlines and then ask people what the stories are about "because you are too busy". You are correct, there is no such thing as a stupid question, but when it's one that is clearly answered in the article then it's lame to ask.
  • ^This... Just those hordes of lazy people that has never read anything longer then 20 words since, just making it through school! And then pretend like they have a massive general knowledge index (mainly from watching tv)
  • Nothing here yet, US, GA, ATT 920
  • Wonder if the Seattle Sounders FC will finally be an option under interests... It would only make sense that the one team MS sponsors would be available...
  • Didn't get any thing new for Cortana :/
  • Nokia 1520 , ATT  Deroit  USA Wow I happy for you guys but sad for me and the rest of the world who cannot experience our beloved Cortana Going Through Puberty.
  • Hahaha. :D
  • It is also worth nothing that Cortona launches much faster on devices such as the Lumia 520 now.
  • Still takes about 10 seconds to go from app opening to finishing the "getting things ready" screen for me, but I feel like even that might be faster than it has been sometimes.  I asked her something tonight, and it seemed to me that her speech was a little quicker paced. Anyone else noticing that, or am I imagining it?
  • Dammit! I must've missed them all!! *sigh* I'm using the 1520 as well..
  • Any L920 users see anything??
  • Can anyone give me this background wallpaper. ?
  • Cortana should manage phone calls. For example... Missed call, would you like me to remind you to call them back?
  • This is a great idea. Fits in perfectly with the people based reminders, too. Hope someone from Microsoft is listening :)
  • I was helping a friend with an app for Android on their phone. Remembering back when I used Android 2.3.3 there were third party apps even back then that could do it. It is a great feature and not really ground breaking. Would be a very welcome addition. While it might not be ground breaking I don't think Siri or Google Now do it.
  • The bouncy ball is not a new animation.
  • I like her Plane icon when she's tracking your flights.
  • It needs a way to exclude news sources you do not want.  For instance, I do not want Fox News in my feed, I'd like to be able to tell Cortana to exclude that.  Am I missing something?  Honestly I'd like it to use the feed from the News app since I set all of my preferences there...
  • That don't impress me..... For y'all to impress me..... u got Tu show her for reel not no HALO
  • That's garbage, I can't see anything lol.
  • I keep getting the same new item on my Cortana tile. How to I start getting the weather and other things on my Cortana tile? Thanks
  • How about just launching Cortana in Australia !!!
  • Your right there, its lame.
    I hope you don't speak for windows
  • Ahhhh I don't have it YEEEEEEEET.   Impatienceeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!
  • Not seeing any of the new animation on Lumia 820
  • Green Unlocked 620, no new animations yet, will be keeping an eye out for them, and on my 1520 that I keep at home.
  • Why isn't Cortana on HTC phones, that are in Canada! It should have been a US/Canada beta. Darn Microsoft...
  • Also my news app data is also now synced and listed in interests now.
  • I have the bouncy ball on my L925 but it does not say may name when I ask
  • I noticed the exciting ball separating and then back to a circle like an excited dog. Its cool wish Microsoft could somehow do backend changes to all major features
  • I cant see weather in Cortana's live tile. Is there specific method to enable it?
  • Nothing new here on Lumia 920. The leave for work thing I've been getting that for weeks
  • How to get the update??
  • I didn't get any changes on my Lumia more thing there is no music icon in my Cortana
  • i didn't get any change on lumia 720..
  • She tells me the traffic when I am away from home and also how much time it would take to reach back !! That's amazing I don't know whether she had such feature before or not but I found it recently for me its great !!!
  • Nothing new
  • Unfortunately I don't see any changes on my 920
  • ...
  • Same here
  • Nothing here (NL810)
  • I see musical notes at the top right part of cortana near cortana 's notebook in these pictures. But I cannot see it on my own phone why is that?
  • Cortanas options menu not opening!!!
  • Whenever I search anything on Cortana , I am not able to click on any link? Clicking is totally unresponsive. Anyone else facing same issue?
  • Yep, me and another guy who posted below.
  • I have that bouncy animation.. It's so cute.. :) received that Cortana's questions too, but had she had some problems loading them.. Um using L520
  • I'm using a 1520, saw the update then it was retracted. Now I am having issues with Cortana. Cannot open anything from the app like news or weather. Also, app doesn't want to load or loads slowly. Have tried all the normal reset options to no avail. Now it is crashing as well. I turned Cortana of and have to use Bing for now. I don't see doing a full reset as solving the problem.
  • Same problems! Nothing can be clicked on, soft resets don't work, crashing too. Wondering if I need to hard reset now.
  • I think there's geofencing issues now too. Not reminding me of thing when I left home and arrived at work this morning.
  • What phone model are you using?
  • Icon. Geofencing seems ok now, and I can click search results, but otherwise its still lame. Hard resetting tomorrow if no improvements. Check the forums, others are dealing with this too.
  • I'm going to hard reset in a few minutes. I'll post my results.
  • Hard reset worked. Cortana back to normal.
  • I did not get the new features, but if anyone in the U.S. wants to use Bing Search again on 8.1 instead of Cortana, all you need to do is disable location services on your phone and tap the Search button. Also, Bing Vision is still built-in to the search. Sadly, the search page does not respond well to taps.
  • Whoa whoa whoa....i had new Cortana and now its back to old Cortana. Anyone else lose features?
  • Anyone with a 928 get the update?
  • Even before reading this article, I randomly ran into this new Clippy animation. Also I can see the bouncing ball on my Lumia 1020, but not much else is happening, still cool to see it in progress :)
  • I saw it. The weather and traffic alert animations were the most noticeable. Its crazy how the backend updates function. Also, very cool.
  • How can I get the update?
  • What else are you looking forward to with Cortana?   Want to use it without regional restrictions... even if Cortana only understands english, I like the new functions like quit hours and inner circles as well. It is annyoing to restart the phone twice just for play around
  •    I'm looking forward to the day when I can just say, "Cortana," and have it wake up my phone.
  • Come on Cortana, lets change for me too!! :D
  • anyone can please tell me how to change the cortana weather from Fahrenheit to Celsius without changing the language of my phone? asfar as I know if I change the language to spanish I will lose Cortana functionality
  • Cortana uses the Bing weather app settings.
  • I have flight tracker on rite now. I am tracking a specific plane to arrive at my airport. I searched on bing "AA 2***" and it brought up the info on that flight. I hit show updates. Then on my Cortana tile, she turns into a plane then flips and shows me when my flight will arrive, if its running late, by how much,ECT. Pretty sweet.